The sky is the limit for two young Darwin chefs based at Mercure Darwin Airport Resort’s Essence Bar & Grill, following their recent winning streak a culinary competition sponsored by Charles Darwin University’s Commercial Cookery and Bakery team.
Sous Chef Mark Cueto and third year apprentice Maria Hoad both placed first in two different categories at the annual event held at the university’s Palmerston campus.
Mark Cueto was announced winner in the two-course Ethnic food class, with his winning menu of twice-cooked pork lechon kawai and ox tail kaldereta hash and kaldereta Jus (see image above).
Maria Hoad won the highly sought-after “Most Outstanding Student of 2016” award, in addition to earning first place in both the Entrée andMain Course classes with her signature dishes – smoked apple pork belly with cauliflower puree, poached pear, Kakadu plum and coffee sauce; and herb crusted lamb rack with potato dauphinoise, glazed carrots, four- mix bean stew, wild berries and porcini jus for main.
In addition, Maria placed first in the highly contended Baking Competition, with her amazing dessert – a spectacular chocolate dome with vanilla crumble, Nutella sponge, coffee cremaux and berry compote with matching anglaise.
Maria placed second in a two further categories, for her decorated cupcakes and special occasion cake.
The NT Food Week competition is comprised of two sections, one for baking, and the second covering a further six classes of food including entrees, main course, desserts, local NT produced seafood, Humpty Doo Barramundi and ethnic. The competition invites local Chefs, Bakers, Students, Apprentices and the general public to participate in competitions and masterclasses each October.
Ideally located in the Mercure Darwin Airport Resort, Essence Bar & Grill celebrates the multiculturalism of Australian cuisine, while retaining flavours of the Northern Territory. The restaurant is open 7 days a week from 5.30am to 9.30pm to cater to both local diners, and of course passengers and guests transiting via the nearby airport.